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Top Chef Episode #3

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Okay I'll start...

Boy did most of them seem to miss the quickfire point. This group doesn't seem very chef-y to me. I mean I think I could make fine dining tacos better than some of them and I am not even a great home cook. We'll see.

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  1. And after seeing Judges' Table (but still prior to whoever's going to be told to pack their knives), I dislike Andrew even more. "I'm not going home tonight - you'll have to drag me out of here. This is MY house!" Beyond cocky - delusional? Chef Colicchio looked like he wanted to belt him. I can only imagine what might have been said back to him had Anthony Bourdain been there instead of Rick Bayless. Perhaps something *was* said back to Andrew but was cut from the show. Can't wait to see what Colicchio says in his blog tomorrow.

    Still - can't see Andrew lasting the whole way. His fidgeting bugs me and I think his potential explosiveness could hinder him. Not surprised that Eric didn't make it through this one. Judges were right - he definitely should have known that the corn dogs weren't going to last 2 hours betwen frying and serving after transport.

    And I'm glad Stephanie won the overall challenge. Two for her!

    32 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      pasta salad that you can buy better at the grocery store is pretty bad though too. but at least she's likable. spike and andrew are both just over the top arrogant. like refusing to follow the spirit of the challenges because they think it's dumb. what's that all about?

      1. re: AMFM

        Agree on the pasta salad. She should have spoken up earlier to say she didn't want to make that. But even tho the Judges say previous challenges don't count, perhaps Erik being in the bottom group in Ep. 1 counted against him this time?


        1. re: LindaWhit

          Who cares if she didn't want to make pasta salad? Bad news. In this business you don't get the luxury of just cooking what you feel like cooking. Pasta salad should have been a cake walk. Maybe not to win but easilly not to be at the bottom either. Sometimes flying low for a while is a smart move both on theese shows and IRL.

          1. re: Docsknotinn

            Obviously SHE cared, Docs. She's there to showcase her talents - that's the whole *point* of the show - to show innovation and what you can do in the kitchen. Any monkey can make pasta salad! (to borrow a phrase from Hung in TC3).

            She wasn't strong enough, however, to say something from the beginning. Flying low has gotten other cheftestants in trouble - the judges don't like them coasting either.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              If any monkey can make pasta salad, that makes Zoi's sins that much worse. I don't care what the dish is; there's no excuse for flavorless food.

              1. re: Jackpot

                I don't disagree with you. But if she didn't WANT to make it, she should have spoken up. Her bad for not doing so and just going with what was "assigned" to her. If there had been leaders of each group and each person got assigned a dish by that leader, she could still make an argument about why it wouldn't work or be good or whatever. But she complacently took what was given to her.

                Yes, she should have made a knockout pasta salad. But I still go back to the point that she didn't speak up when she had a chance to do so. It was a group effort - but the show remains a focus on individual contribution. And if something else would have shown her talents better and been appropriate for the block party, she should have spoken up.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I agree completely, Linda. Zoi should have said that she wasn't comfortable making the dish.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                "She's there to showcase her talents - that's the whole *point"

                Sorry but I dissagree. She's there to win not whine. You don't get any place in the big kitchen by screwing up then crying about it. I would have sent them both home.

                "Any monkey can make pasta salad!"

                Obviously not.

                1. re: Docsknotinn

                  "She's there to showcase her talents - that's the whole *point"

                  Sorry but I dissagree. She's there to win not whine.
                  Yes, and winning requires showcasing her talents. If pasta salad isn't her talent - don't make it!

                  "Any monkey can make pasta salad!"

                  Obviously not.
                  I was being facetious. :-/ Again, if she didn't want to make it, she shouldn't have. She should have made something that showed her cooking skills.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Ok I agree but she screwed up either way. Failure is failure with or with out the after thought whining. She had three options once she committed, Succeed, fail or fall in the middle. It's pretty pathetic that a chef at this level can't handle a pasta salad or Mac n Cheese for that matter. This season is pretty lame overall.

                    1. re: Docsknotinn

                      I have to say the judges are a bit over the top this time. I understand they are used to fine dining (and I agree they shouldn't "dumb down" to a neighborhood) but the challenge was for a block party. Hello- pasta salad is standard there. I doubt the judges have ever eaten pasta salad at a family gathering or block party. Therefore don't realize the nature of the dish (but paella & piccata they are clear on- tom with his definitions of the dish- oy vey! Give it a rest!). Altho it should have been flavorful IDK- sun dried tomatoes and feta maybe, there is a better alternative out there I'm sure! I'm am agravated so far, judges need to gain some perspective and Bravo needs to step it up!

                      1. re: jme1beachbum

                        It wasn't that they were upset Zoi made pasta salad - they were aggrivated because it was awful. I believe one of the neighborhood residents had said they had eaten better packaged pasta salad.

                        1. re: wingman

                          I am an average cook at best and below average when it comes to Chowhounds, etc. Having said that, I made several kick-ass pasta salads.

          2. re: AMFM

            i couldn't understand the pasta salad at all. it's not like they are working from recipes - if she didn't like it, why didn't she change what was in it? the corn dogs were a no-brainer and a sure loser. he's probably a better cook than a few people left, but that's how it goes.

            richard and his paella - oh where to start? sure most people in the neighborhood probably have good paella, but the judges sure have - not sure what the thinking was there (besides imunity, of course). andrew's comment was really stupid, but i don't think he's known for thinking before he blurts something out. andrew being andrew, if you will.

            1. re: azhotdish

              Really? You think he is better cook? Even after his hideous ep. 1 souffle, he made something that brought similar mental pictures to my head for the quick fire. And as SOON as he said he was doing corndogs I knew where that was going.

              1. re: dagoose

                Yeah, I don't see any indication that Erik is a good cook at all. What has he done that was good? Those tacos for the quickfire were really lame looking, and his "Mexican food and fine dining don't go together" attitude was both ignorant and insulting to legions of great Mexican chefs.

                I have to say I'm not super impressed by anyone yet. None of the challenges so far has been very hard -- putting together a dish of five ingredients from the farmers' market is a lot easier than food from a gas station or a vending machine -- and there's been lots of whining, excuses and attitude. These cheftestants don't look to be anywhere near the quality of season three, more like season two.

                1. re: dagoose

                  cannot agree with you more- his plates looked so terrible they were comic.

              2. re: AMFM

                I think Zoi benefitted from the situation that the judges probably did NOT want to send home three women in a row?????

                I don't like pasta salad either, but when I was catering, and someone ordered it, we made a kick-a$$ pasta salad for them. You don't have to personally love every dish you make to make one that tastes great.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  Also Bravo is banking on the continued couple-drama of Jen and Zoi. Not that I think the producers participate in the decisions...I believe Colicchio's repeated statements to the contrary. But Bravo has to be happy that Zoi didn't leave yet. However, I will not be surprised if she doesn't last much longer...her efforts so far haven't been much better than Erik's.

                  Erik seemed really nice but whoa what a lapse in judgment, dissing Bayless on national TV, and displaying massive ignorance about Mexican cuisine. Check out amuse-biatch for a very nice tirade about his ignorant attitude.

                  1. re: kenito799

                    I'm not done reading the thread, but I have to interject....I haven't looked at the credits of this episode, but in the credits of previous episodes, I would swear that there is a note in there that it says the producers and Bravo execs have a hand in the judging.

                    It's a flash. I would think it's rather obvious. And knowing that going into it, I would NEVER insult a guest judge..I imagine they are on the show for a reason...you never know who is friendly with who. As soon as Eric said Bayless could kiss his butt or some such colorful comment after losing the quickfire, he might as well have painted a target on his forehead.

                    1. re: sommrluv

                      yes they always show that message, it is some sort of disclaimer, but Colicchio and the other judges have said over and over that they have free reign to judge as they please without interference, and that the food is most important. Of course, we wouldnt expect any of them to reveal that they have been precoached about who the producers would like to keep around...conspiracy theories will always surround these shows...

                      1. re: sommrluv

                        I'm actually not convinced he said that after losing the quickfire. He said it in a separately filmed interview session. It may have been after the quickfire, but it may have been part of his post elimination interview that was then edited in after the quickfire, which would explain his hostility and also the fact that he said that despite the fact that it doesn't reflect the fact that he (1) did "glorified nachos" for his first elimination dish and (2) works at a restaurant that is based on reinventing classics. Reality shows often edit in portions of the separate one-on-one interviews wherever they fit thematically rather than in strict chronological order. It's television, it's edited. Is anyone surprised by this in the year 2008?

                        As for the disclaimer: they've always had it, all Bravo's competitive reality shows have it. They need it to protect themselves against legal liability for the exact claims that people always make: that the judging is controlled by the producers (or the network) and that eliminations are done on a basis other than the basis given. If they say up front that that may happen, then that constitutes fair warning to the contestants that, basically, they can't complain about judging conspiracies.

                        But from what I've read in both Top Chef and Project Runway, the judges really do make the decisions without any input from the producers. Do you really think that Tom Colicchio and some of the other famous, well-respected chefs (not media whores like Rocco and Ted Allen) would lend their professional credibility to a decision that wasn't theirs?

                        Finally, the judges don't see any of the footage of what goes on in the kitchen/work room when they're not there, in the house and in the interviews. You'll often see them remark afterwards that they had no idea of what was going on and are often surprised or even shocked when they see the footage. So even if Erik said that after the quickfire, no one saw it outside of production until they aired the show. What editing in that comment did do was help build the narrative that he was a jerk with an attitude problem and that bad things were going to happen to him, making it seem obvious that he was going to be eliminated. As people are getting more savvy about watching these shows, the editing tricks become more and more obvious.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          "Do you really think that Tom Colicchio and some of the other famous, well-respected chefs (not media whores like Rocco and Ted Allen) would lend their professional credibility to a decision that wasn't theirs?"

                          Honestly, yes. I've come to the point where I don't believe *anything* is real anymore, and I've become cynical about everything (and not just reality TV, even normal media is so infused w/ guerilla marketing, etc that it is hard to know what is just some bored art student and what is a carefully crafted ad campaign). That being said, I don't believe that TC is "fixed".

                          1. re: jgg13

                            So hard to resist when topic is media...

                            The ties between art and commerce have been there for ages. Many beautiful documentaries of the Free Cinema 'movement' were funded by Ford. A stunning avant-garde cartoon called 'The Birth of the Robot' was funded by Shell Oil. I don't recommend becoming demoralised as if this were somehow a negative progression. What was 'TRUE' for you before?

                            We're watching provocations here, where the camera is a catalyst for all kinds of responses and behaviours. Let's try to see what is happening here rather than decry the loss of truth, as if there had ever been an effective, pure, transmission of truth in the past. (Or maybe there has been and you can let me know. But that would be OT.)

                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Ruth, good on you for noting that we do not know the full circumstances behind this interview. Moreover, while the direct address gives us the impression of a confessional, something free-flowing and self-produced, I know that producers are often provoke and prompt response with questions, like 'Well if so-and-so said this to you, what would you say to him/her?'

                            In effect, it was a bad move on his part to forget that anything he said in front of a camera would be broadcast, but the saying it could have been brought on by a number of provocations-- possibly incessant ones leading to a more heated response.

                            What we do know is that this clip helps produce a character and a narrative for the programme that justifies his being voted out. (Frankly, I figure that the constant inability to distinguish himself save for negatively for 6 challenges did not work well in his favour. And that may have factored into the final decision for the judges; true, the producers would want to keep Zoi for other narrative purposes, but we could have lost the boring white guy-- Ryan-- if it were all about teh dramaz.)

                            1. re: Lizard

                              "Moreover, while the direct address gives us the impression of a confessional, something free-flowing and self-produced, I know that producers are often provoke and prompt response with questions, like 'Well if so-and-so said this to you, what would you say to him/her?' "

                              Another good point. Often, a contestant will be criticized for seeming to harp on another contestant or being too critical. But many (if not all) of those statements are made in response to unseen, unheard questions. Even if they innocuously ask the contestants "so, give us an assessment of each of your fellow competitors" those assessments come across very differently when it seems like the person spontaneously started critiquing another competitor.

                            2. re: Ruth Lafler

                              I have religiously read the judges' blogs each season, and though I don't take them as inerrant gospel, I feel fairly confident in Tom's stand on the producer's interference. He's amused by the conspiracy theories, and has said the only time the producers interfered was when the judges wanted to send everyone home (not just Cliff) after the Marcel head-shaving incident.

                    2. re: LindaWhit

                      I can't stand Andrew's personality. I don't know whether he's nervous or what, but he really rubs me the wrong way; he was out of control at the judges' table.

                      1. re: Jackpot

                        i'm with you. my husband thinks he must be off the ritalin. ;)

                      2. re: LindaWhit

                        I am wondering... did I miss something they said to Andrew? It seemed to me like his outburst about not being thrown off was not only inappropriate, but apropos of nothing.

                        Personally if I were Tom Colicchio, anyone who said something like that would be off the show immediately. It sounded borderline threatening to me.

                        1. re: Adrienne

                          I definitely had the impression that portions of the discussion leading up to Andrew's "outburst" were left on the editing floor. Of course with Andrew.....you never know.

                        2. re: LindaWhit

                          I sure hope that Andrew's outburst was some attempt at strategy. I'd rather think Andrew blew up to demonstrate intense passion in the hope that might be a deciding factor in a close elimination vote. It would be truly frightening if his out of control behavior represents his normal response to criticism or potential disappointment.

                        3. Agree with the above points. I liked the good humor and manic energy Andrew brought to the proceedings. Didn't mind the cursing, twitchiness, etc. Plus, it looks like the guy can cook. But he was out of line at judges' table.

                          I thought that his team felt so unified and confident, and then so surprised to be the losing team, that the judges almost looked a little beaten down. You don't see that too often. I also liked the moment when Colicchio wipes his brow in an involuntary nervous gesture, like "whew." I was surprised they didn't come back at Andrew for his conduct. I wonder what was edited out? I hope Colicchio mentions it in his blog.

                          It was disappointing to see one of my favorites have a meltdown like this. He is either on drugs -- or, being on the show, he is withdrawing off of something he is used to having every day. He might want to hit Padma up for a fix. Or is he just naturally wired that way? Either way it was pretty unacceptable. It's not "his house."

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Budget Palate

                            I have the feeling, too, that something's going on with Andrew that's more than nervousness, twitchiness, etc. On the one hand I feel badly for him, but on the other it probably took guts on his part to be there.

                            Not surprised one bit at the ousting of Eric. He should've known better, given his "I make these all the time in my restaurant" explanation.

                            1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                              what happened to the posts suggesting there may be a self-medicating reason for Andrew's behavior?

                              1. re: karenfinan

                                Speculation about possible drug use really is too far afield for our boards and so we've removed those posts.

                            2. re: Budget Palate

                              Am not an Andrew fan, but he is very entertaining. I actually think he's got some form of ADHD.

                              I was actually surprised that Erik left. Was so sure it was going to be Zoe with that pasta salad, especially with the way Bravo edited it. But I think Zoe is the stronger contender so I'm glad she stayed. And Erik was very annoying with the whole Mexican is not upscale thing. Has he not been to Mexico? There are a lot of upscale Mexican restaurants.

                            3. I'm so glad the condescension inherent in the losing team's work got pointed out at the judge's table. Paraphrasing: "This is what these people like/are used to." Vomit.

                              28 Replies
                              1. re: aelph

                                I also thought it was pretty condescending of those contestants who, in the quick fire, stated emphatically that Mexican was not fine dining. So nowhere in the entire country are there high-end tacos?

                                1. re: mojoeater

                                  Especially when the guest judge was Rick Bayless(Frontera Grill and fine dining Topolobampo). How stupid can you get?

                                  1. re: aelph

                                    I'm also glad the condescension got pointed out. I thought that Ted Allen got the point of the night when he said that the food needs to taste good whether you're making a jelly donut or sous vide duck breast. I was prepared to dislike Bayless at judges' table but I thought he made some good points also.

                                    And haven't the cheftestants seen the show before? They oughtta know that on this show you always cook for the judges, always make the food as good as possible, and you don't condescend.

                                    1. re: Budget Palate

                                      at the same point i think you cook for the challenge too - which was the problem with the quickfire. everyone (practically) ignored the instructions. at the block party i just wanted to scream "there is something in between these two!!!! haven't any of you ever been to an outdoor party with normal people?" we eat more than hotdogs but paella is a bit unwieldy at such an event - and personally i wouldn't trust shellfish at that kind of a thing even though i love it. anyway i thought the fruit dessert, the fun smores and actually dale's skewers looked like things that would go over great most places. a bit different but easy to eat and just yummy.
                                      interesting that stephanie's won twice - and that despite the celery chip i actually thought her banana bread dessert looked amazing last challenge. interesting. oh and there was almost NO footage of Mark and what he did this week. Also noticed them calling Manuel Memo - he did get a bit more air time.

                                2. re: aelph

                                  i so agree! spike in particular was extremely condescending about the people they were serving, referring to "middle america" and their "less developed palates"-- & "this is what these people eat"-- but he evidently didn't notice that he's in *chicago,* (and a very wealthy neighborhood in north chicago or 'burbs at that) or bother to look around the well-appointed kitchens in the homes before he decided this. in actuality most of the folks at the block party were probably used to pretty sophisticated dining and the soggy corn dogs weren't going to cut it. spike and andrew are both ny transplants from florida, they seemed to play off of each other in their off-base assumptions and dumbing down their menu in this episode. they're the bobsy twins!

                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    That was one homogenous neighborhood, that's for sure.

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      that was a newly upscale neighborhood... not "very wealthy." and in the city. really familiar looking from my childhood. Lots of Chicago looks like that. 8>)

                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                        wow. that neighborhood doesn't look anything like where my dad grew up on the south side. the kitchens were well appointed and the maids had obviously left moments before the cameras got there, not a dirty coffee cup out of place anywhere-- i do not buy for a minute that the homeowners did not know top chef was showing up to raid their fridges.

                                        i guess "very wealthy" is in the eye of the beholder, but if folks can afford a $400,000+ house on the north side of chicago they can afford a nice meal at an upscale restaurant. the red team seemed to think they were in the middle of rural nebraska, not minutes away from some of the best fine dining restaurants in the country. they wanted to believe that well-off folks in chicago don't know good food from a hole in the ground-- i just think they were sadly mistaken. i don't think soggy corn dogs and bland pasta salad would cut it at a block party in *my* neighborhood, much less in an area where people can afford to eat better food.

                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                          i do not buy for a minute that the homeowners did not know top chef was showing up to raid their fridges.
                                          Lee Ann Wong has already stated in her blog that she and others on the TC staff met with homeowners to make sure they were OK with the kitchen raids. Plus - camera shots from within the house when the cheftestants rang the doorbell at one of the houses kinda gave away the fact that they were aware what was happening and that they had given their approval.

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            We noticed the inside the house camera angles while watching the show. Obviously the home owners knew this was coming.

                                            Who among us wouldn't have gone out and stocked our kitchen with goodies (or at least what we deemed as goodies) had we known Bravo cameras were coming to our door?

                                            Maybe I've missed this somewhere in these posts and it's already been discussed, but wasn't there a show on FN (quite some time ago) that involved that cheeky British fellow who went in to "unsuspecting" people's houses and cooked a dinner for them? I use to love that show - or loved the British bloke, it's been awhile - hard to remember.

                                            1. re: Mushroom

                                              I think the show was called Door Knock Dinner with Gordon Elliot. This is the show that introduced us to Paula Deen.

                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                Gordon Elliott is also Sandra Lee's producer and her squeeze now that she is divorced from her very wealthy husband.

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  :::gasp:::: You used the SL word in a TC thread! No, no, no - BAD Phaedrus! Go to bed without supper and just THINK about what you've done. ;-)

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    LOL. That's OK I get chastised by the CH police all the time.

                                                  2. re: Phaedrus

                                                    I thought "the ones name that shall not be mentioned" dumped GE and is now hanging with Andrew Como.

                                            2. re: soupkitten

                                              Plus it was very clear that these folks new the home town favorite Bayless (not to mention shopped at farmer's markets etc). They might have been "average" folks holding a block party, but I agree with lots of posters that there was no need to dumb down the food for them.

                                              1. re: Elyssa

                                                The "super-fan" blog on Bravo said the neighborhood was VERY disappointed in much of what was made for their party - they were definitely expecting higher-end food.

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  That doesn't surprise me. Even if their typical fare is hotdogs and hamburgers (which was probably not an accurate assumption on the part of the Red Team; I've had some great food at these types of gatherings over the years), if professional chefs were showing up, why wouldn't they expect the eats to reflect that? Before the judges announced their decision, I thought they might have said neither team were winners and either not sent anyone packing or sent 2 people home.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    I SO agree...

                                                    Just think about it...How would WE feel if Top Chef came to our town, for a block party, and raided our pantry?

                                                    We'd let them take whatever we wanted, really good items.

                                                    Than we would expect them to pull out something spectacular. Wouldn't you just want to throw your soggy corndog at them in disgust?

                                                    You know the gossip of the neighborhood is which neighbor gave 12 packs of hot dogs, and which neighbor gave out enough seafood for paella......those CHEAPO Johnsons! Hot dogs! LOL

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      I really wish whenever they did a community show, they would pick a few random people from the crowd and have them to judges' panel. Let THEM say whether it was a hit or miss with the crowd, instead of having the judges tell them chefs what real people would want. If they had done that, their decision could have taken into account this information that LindaWhit has given us now.

                                                      1. re: Adrienne

                                                        i agree. i think one time the crowd actually decided the winner - i wonder if they disagreed and that's why they don't anymore - but i'd still like to see more. the comments i heard were hard to read.

                                                        1. re: Adrienne

                                                          Agree with that Adrienne. They used to show more of the guests at the function and their comments; there seemed to be a lot less this show. Except as stated earlier, I think a silent but telling comment was one of the neighborhood folk emptying a Kingsford charcoal bag into a Weber grill.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Well, I have to admit that whenever I build a Kingsford charcoal fire in my Webber grill I ALWAYS make sure to have the label side of the bag facing the camera. Then I'll go sit in my Rav4 and chug a few bottles of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. But who doesn't?

                                                            1. re: LabRat

                                                              I guess I'm a little out of practice making sure the Kingsford label shows for the camera, as I've been using a gas grill for about 15 years. I'll have to make sure I remember this next time around. :-)

                                                          2. re: Adrienne

                                                            they did this once in season 2 - it was a create-your-own-ice cream challenge, and they took it to boardwalk and everyone filled out comment cards to determine the winners and losers. not quite the same as your suggestion, but close.

                                                            1. re: azhotdish

                                                              yes! i remember that -- that's how i think all of the crowd-pleaser ones should work. that would make me happy :)

                                                2. re: aelph

                                                  They should have known from the first house they went into (with the lady who had just returned from the farmer's market) that it was not a neighborhood filled with uncultured masses. Also, did I see someone getting loads of meyer lemons from another house?

                                                  I live in a neighborhood very similar to that. It's an established city neighborhood with lots of older bungalows--not generica suburbia. The people who tend to be attracted to that type of neighbhorhood are former urban dwellers who have a couple of kids and realize they want more space, but still go for a neighborhood with quirks and character, not cookie cutter tract homes. They were probably more likely to have sophisticated palate than the average suburban dweller. They have hotdogs in the fridge because they have kids and kids like hotdogs!

                                                  And Andrew, my husband's non-professional opinion is that he has Tourette's syndrome.

                                                  Richard drives me crazy. I think he is all style and no substance, and don't think we'll see him in the Top 4.

                                                  1. re: Megiac

                                                    re: the neighborhood, from ted's blog:

                                                    "Some of those little houses are now worth a million bucks. The governor of Illinois lives one block north of where Team Red and Team Blue slung their grub. And I couldn’t help noticing in one of those once-humble kitchens where the chefs were raiding the pantry, there was a 48-inch Viking pro range, slate on the floor, and soapstone counters. Those were not just bratwurst aficionados, chefs. Some of those fridges contained fresh asparagus and prosciutto."

                                                3. I think Erik looked lost and he didn't even want to do the food hunt thing. I could just see it in his eyes. Oh crap, I gotta do what!

                                                  Still, as someone else said I would have booted Andrew off ASAP after his remarks. I would have loved to see him dragged off by guards. Not to mention his clear lack of understanding of just how bad his team did. If he can't see that, he wont be around long. But wow, he is irritating that's for sure.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: SDMike

                                                    Just a thought in general- both teams didn't do well (clearly stated by judges to winning team), so why is anyone (judges included) surprised that losing team was surprised. Ugh. This show makes me crazy and it makes me crazy knowing a television show can do that!

                                                  2. I was glad to see Erik leave after his ignorant comments about Mexican food. Dude needs to visit Chicago, or Mexico City for that matter.

                                                    As irritating as Andrew may be, I think he's one of the strongest chefs this season. His tacos looked delicious.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                      I completely concur with both your points Morton. I'm willing to bet that Andrew will make it to the top 4.

                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                        He was a chef at Le Cirque...he has to have some chops. Would I want to hang out with him 24/7? Probably not...but he's creative and fun to watch on the show.

                                                    2. Flip a coin, either Erik or Zoi could/should have easily gone home. I'm no great chef, but even I could assemble a pasta salad that wasn't “bland.” And anyone who dealt regularly with fried foods should know they are not going to hold well in a Cambro. Another knock against Erik was his unappealing plating (on this episode and earlier ones). The judges probably got it right.

                                                      A note on the show: The format is wearing on me. It's kind of a grind: Quickfire, Elimination, montage of the cooking and serving, comments from the eaters, judges table, the first group/individual being called in and told they won, then the losers get reamed out, and everyone waits for the axe to fall.

                                                      Maybe my memory is weak, but it seems the like things were a little more scattershot and unpredictable during the first (IMO best) season. I like that; drama is much more engaging when you can't predict not only who will get cut, but how it will happen. Throw us a format curve every once in a while, why don't ya?

                                                      Also, 2 other ideas: Every contestant these days already seems to have made a mark for themselves as an executive chef, line cook in a high end house, they’ve already been trained or have years of experience. The contests are often tests of standard knowledge and technique: You should know what a paella is, or how to make piccata... it seems more and more like a final exam for culinary school.

                                                      I know it isn’t this version of Top Chef, but I rather like the idea of regular cooks competing against one another--maybe with some pros as well--to see who can best combine innovation and technique in a contest to help them realize their dreams. Harold (Season 1) was a talented dude; I would have a hard time imagining he wouldn’t have “made it” one way or another, even if he hadn’t won $100,000.

                                                      Finally, Richard’s obsession with being “different” couldn’t be more of a turn-off to me. Flavor combinations and execution will always trump some sort of off the wall concoction that only exists to oppose the norm—at least according to MY stomach.

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: The Loaf

                                                        I agree that the format is getting old--and it really bothers me that they use the same exact music for the same points in the show.

                                                        1. re: The Loaf

                                                          "Finally, Richard’s obsession with being “different” couldn’t be more of a turn-off to me. Flavor combinations and execution will always trump some sort of off the wall concoction that only exists to oppose the norm—at least according to MY stomach."

                                                          Bayless validated his jicama taco.

                                                          1. re: The Loaf

                                                            Richard is trying to be different by integrating new twists on classic food combinations, not by coming up with flavors that never existed before. He has yet to create something that the judges either said were tasteless or bad tasting. In fact Collichio was really impressed by his delicate use of smoke with the crab cake (an inventive twist on a tried and true dish). He's simply trying to put his own mark on flavors, not create things that are "weird" like Marcel.

                                                            1. re: wingman

                                                              I think if Richard didn't have the faux hawk, or was a handsome guy, people on this board would be easier on him.
                                                              If you just look at the food, he's got enthusiasm and skills, and without an absurd attitude.
                                                              Chef Tom was reaching for something to crit in Richard's rice pilaf/not-a-paella - and he said it tasted good.

                                                              1. re: pitu

                                                                Is it just me or are the judges using the "you call it one thing, its really another - so you're getting dinged even though it was tasty" card more this season?

                                                                While that sort of thing annoys me all of the time (e.g. the bastardization of 'martini', etc), its common enough in the world that I don't know its really worth beating on them about.

                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                  Yes -- especially the way Tom made it sound like the flavor of the rice pilaf was almost irrelevant since it had the wrong name.

                                                            2. re: The Loaf

                                                              I'd love to see a show in which regular cooks compete--but I'd like to see it be an educational-type thing, with a winner, yes, but perhaps on a point system and not with folks being eliminated each episode, and judges including regular folks. I'd watch it. It wouldn't bring up the drama that an elimination-type program does, but it also might not bring out the meanness, either. I'd love to see a program like this with some real-life challenges: here's your pantry, here are the four things you've got in your refrigerator, now, what can you make for the family without running to the store or ordering takeout? Or, it's the end of the month and you've got twenty bucks to buy groceries; what's for supper? Or--and this one could be used to raise awareness about hunger and emergency food needs--here's an emergency food box; make something tasty. But I'm out in the middle of nowhere, Iowa, and I don't have the ear of any TV folks.

                                                              1. re: revsharkie

                                                                rev, all of your challenges could be used for TC as well - and they have limited the cheftestants to a very low dollar amount at times on previous seasons, but I especially like the idea of the "end of the month you have $20 to feed a family of 4 for the next 3 days" situation.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  I too love all of those ideas - i actually like the here's your pantry and the 4 things you have in your refrigerator what's for dinner one the best just because it stumps me at least once a week when I haven't thought ahead... :)

                                                            3. Totally agreed that Andrew is becoming overly annoyoing. And Zoi, I make a fabulous pasta salad that everyone loves, I should send her the recipe.

                                                              On to product placement though, does anyone seem to notice ALL of the Clorox Company product placement...sooo much of it. Glad products, of course (owned by Clorox). But the Hidden Valley Ranch in the fridge and the KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce in the pantry last night. (All owned by Clorox Company.) And the Kingsford charcoal that was used at the block party and heavily advertised last night, owned by the Clorox Company. It's just so shameless. Geez, we're not that stupid, right? I mean, do they really think that my shopping list for today reads: Glad bags, HV Ranch dressing, KCM BBQ sauce and Kingsford charcoal.

                                                              23 Replies
                                                              1. re: geg5150

                                                                Re: product placement - it's been talked about in past seasons as well. It's one of the few ways that advertisers (who are paying for that placement in the show) are going to get their products seen - how many people TiVO or DVR the show and zip through the commercials? Place them IN the show people want to watch, and the viewers have no choice but to see them...or hear them, as in Padma's comment about the vehicles they were going to get into and drive to the neighborhood...what are they - 4Runners?

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  I get it. I just find it annoying.

                                                                  And I definitely think that the ranch dressing and the BBQ sauce that were featured so prominently in the pantry/fridge were planted.

                                                                  1. re: geg5150

                                                                    I found it strange that the contestants were so excited about finding commercial ranch dressing and barbecue sauce. Even if you're adding ingredients, that stuff is kind of nasty.

                                                                    1. re: geg5150

                                                                      Well, I just read Lee Ann's blog on Bravotv.com and she said she didn't stock any of the houses' pantries. She agrees - the woman is bomb shelter ready. :-)

                                                                      1. re: geg5150

                                                                        Those aren't exactly obscure brands and items. It's not surprising that in all the houses they visited they found some of the sponsor's products. Then all they had to do was to edit the footage to highlight them being there -- it wasn't necessary to plant them.

                                                                    2. re: geg5150

                                                                      only thing to Zoi's credit is that I don't know what they could use that they didn't find in the houses. She may have had cruddy ingredients. i didn't hear how much they could use stuff from the pantry spelled out.

                                                                      1. re: AMFM

                                                                        You don't think that any of those houses were pre-stocked with sponsors' products? I do.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          Did you see the lady's pantry with like 10,000 cans of Campbell's soup? Geez, I can see stockpiling if you're in an earthquake zone, but that's just weird. It's not like there's ever a run on the stuff.

                                                                          1. re: newhavener07

                                                                            LOL! Yes, even Spike (I think it was him) said something about that! However, I still think that pre-stocking could very well have happened....and it gave Spike the perfect opportunity to turn away the other team saying he had already been in there - despite the fact that there was still tons of food in that pantry.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              LeAnne Wong's blog talks about that woman's pantry -- LeAnne swears she didn't pre-stock it! But apparently the house owners could only give out food that was fresh and unopened... it does seem kind of odd that some of them "just happened" to have that MUCH food on-hand...

                                                                              1. re: Cookingthebooks

                                                                                Whoops - should have read ahead before I posted above in reply to geg5150 re: Lee Ann saying she didn't stock the pantry. But there was definitely pre-contact with the house owners, Lee Ann said, prior to their kitchens and pantries being raided. So perhaps some of them went out and bought the additional food items to have on hand so the cheftestants had the ingredients.

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  I bet they went out and bought cheap ingredients to be raided - or to have used themselves for the block party. I mean lets be pretty realistic that's what most of america does. It's not that we can't cook but for a block party many people aren't going to take fancy so HV Ranch if it was 2 for $3 at the local store that week just may be in the pantry. I don't know - it looked like the fridge/pantry of many of my friends who are costco shoppers with lots of kids. especially if they were planning on bringing something to the block party the next day. just mho.

                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            I agree with the pre-stocking, LW. It was just too funny when that one fridge had two UNOPENED bottles of Hidden Valley Ranch. Who keeps spare unopened bottled salad dressing in their refrigerator?

                                                                            I was very, very disappointed with Zoi. The whole "I didn't want to make pasta salad" thing was a little bratty - you're on a cooking show, not running your restaurant. And if you got assigned to make pasta salad, make the best damn pasta salad you can make!

                                                                            You're not going to win on pasta salad, but no one was going to win the $100k on this episode anyway. And you might go home on a crappy pasta salad, so make it taste good.

                                                                            1. re: jnstarla

                                                                              who keeps two unopened bottles of salad dressing in the fridge?

                                                                              Well, perhaps not your average poster on CH's Home Cooking, but, well, my husband, for starters. We often have lots of bottled dressing even though I don't ever use it. He goes to the store, sees those 'buy one, get one free' sales (fairly common with salad dressing actually) and buys it. And since I don't use it, it sits in the fridge....(or cupboard)....

                                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                This might be overthinking, but the placement in the fridge was actually the part that seemed strange to me. People don't usually keep nonperishables in the fridge unless they're about to use them. But none of that means it has to be product placement, if they were told to stock their pantries with block party ingredients, maybe that's just what they chose to leave for the cheftestants.

                                                                                1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                  I thought of that too, and the fact that the labels were perfectly displayed for the camera when the door was opened and the bottles were 'discovered'.

                                                                                2. re: susancinsf

                                                                                  >who keeps two unopened bottles of salad dressing in the fridge?

                                                                                  someone about to make salad for a block party might . . .
                                                                                  or perhaps it was just dirty dirty product placement. were they kraft or one of the other TC sponsors?

                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                No, I think the "shopping" montage was heavily edited to feature the sponsors' products.

                                                                              3. re: AMFM

                                                                                True, but hasn't she ever had to make anything for a potluck? Seems like she just copped out and was both condescending and inept. She should have gone home, in my opinion. At least Erik's dish was good at some point.

                                                                              4. re: geg5150

                                                                                Strangely enough after that episode, I felt compelled to make Costco shopping list, instead of going to sleep:

                                                                                Kingsford for the grill - bundled twin packs
                                                                                KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce - Big bottles
                                                                                Glad freezer bags - Gallon and Quart sizes for the leftovers
                                                                                Glad Trash Bags - to clean up my yard
                                                                                Brita Water Filters - for palatable wawa
                                                                                Various cleaners for my house and grill - Formula 409, SOS pads
                                                                                and finally Fresh Step for my cat.

                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                  LOL dave c

                                                                                  The product placement in bomb-shelter-stocked house was gross. Why would the cheftestants be excited about that? A few hunks of pork, I can understand, but jars of BBQ sauce etc?

                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                    Pack it all up in the trunk of your Highlander (TM, visit toyota.com for more info)!

                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                      Good one...Clorox will be very happy with your list. Their stock will go up!

                                                                                  2. I finally feel as if we're beginning to get to know these guys & gals a little better. However, I still change favorites about 5 times a show. 16 cheftestants are about 4 to many. I spent the majority of the elimination challenge trying to figure out who was actually on each team.

                                                                                    1. Maybe I'm thinking too into this, but I thought it was interesting how some (Spike and Erik, to name two) were all about "knowing the audience" for the block party challenge and cooking accordingly (in their opinion), yet when Rick Bayless asked for upscale Mexican, they made it seem like it was rediculous to make anything besides street food-style Mexican. I mean, talk about knowing your audience, you're in a cooking competition, if the "audience" is a man well-known for upscale Mexican, just DO IT!

                                                                                      Whew...anyways, I know someone else mentioned on here, but where were Dale, Mark, and I beleive a few of the ladies' Quickfire dishes? I know they can't focus on every little detail, but I don't think it would've taken TOO long to show each QF dish. I thought I saw a flash of a stacked "taco" dish that looked pretty cool, actually, and then got really confused when they never showed it again during judging.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: gyozagirl

                                                                                        Glad to see Erik go home after his "Rick Bayless can go SCREW HIMSELF if he thinks Mexican food is fine dining" comment. Way out of line.

                                                                                        1. re: jaydreb

                                                                                          I'm from California. I used to think that "upscale Mexican" was an oxymoron. Then I went to Chicago and had two of the best meals of my life at Frontera and Topo. Boy, was I wrong.

                                                                                          1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                            no need to go to Chicago...check out Babita next time you are in LA....

                                                                                      2. Dh thought Zoi would go home, but I was sure it would be Erik. Just last week, Valerie got booted for the exact same thing... serving something that went soggy during transport, when she should have known that would happen. It is bad enough when these contestants don't generalize the lessons of previous seasons, but to make the exact same mistake that had last week's outcast sent home... that was just foolish.

                                                                                        OTOH, I do find it curious that a pasta salad would be bad enough to put someone in danger of going home. Sure, it isn't the kind of dish that would allow you to showcase your talent and have a chance of winning, but it should be the type of safe dish that ensures you stay in the competition. And it's so adaptable that finding ingredients for a tasty version should've been easy,

                                                                                        Although I'm sure the branded products were planted, I don't find it odd that some pantries (one in particular) were so well stocked. My pantry looks like that... I just like to make sure I have anything and everything I might need on hand.

                                                                                        1. Jfood thought the quickfire was great and seing what the chef's can do with normal everydayingredients was fun, but not really what jfood wanted to see on Top Chef. Jfood wants to watch Top Chef for both entertainment and for watching good food. The basis under which the elimination round was based created one at the expense of the other. Granted a chef should be able to whip up a pretty good block party, but having to prepare for a block party and doing the prep and bringing to the block is pretty onerous. As they say on American Idol it's all about the song choice. On Top Chef, last night was all about the Course Choice.

                                                                                          And the eliminatee was at the forefront of the process beating the chef. Now jfood has no qualms with him going (rice pudding souffle and corn dogs) but hopefully we can move on to see their true talent, not this inaneness. And where did Bayless' nastiness come from. Jfood has never seen him so frustrated, so you can imagine what was left on the cutting room floor.


                                                                                          Erik - Pretty easy to see why this guy was eliminated. Mr. I Don't Cook that Crap Chef. First he disses Mexican food, then he disses the 'hood, then he disses corn dogs, each with an air of arrogance. Then he explains how he cooks some type of corn dog derivative in his restaurant and knows specifically that it has to be served "within 3 minutes." So your resto serves deep fried something-or-other and your dissing Topolobampo as crappy Mexican? Adios amigos. That's Spanish (the language they speak in Mexico) for Pack Your Knives Big Boy. No loss in Jfood's eyes.
                                                                                          Richard - jfood thought the brightest spot in the entire night was the jicama taco, what brilliant idea (insert paws clapping). Major uptick in "smokey's" stock in jfood's eyes. Only wish it would have been on Topolo's menu two weeks ago when jfood ate there.
                                                                                          Andrew - Big rise in stock with the duck taco and then crash and burn at the judges' table and he looked like a coked up maniac chef. In the dumpster with that Judges' Table tirade.
                                                                                          Spike - Stick a spike in the 'tude, dude. News flash - you ain't that good yet. Please run off with Andrew so the viewers can see some maturity. Better yet please stick around so there is some real entertainment. Yup, you and Andrew have some issues to resolve.
                                                                                          Manuel - He basically went into a corner and cried after not receiving taco of the year award. next time listen to the directions
                                                                                          Dale - other bright spot with the skewers. people liked them a lot. Jfood still not a fan, but is now watching more closely.
                                                                                          Nikki - gee what a surprise, the mac and cheese set after an hour. You dodged a major bullet because others were waaaaay worse.
                                                                                          Zoi - She was given a free pass with the other chef's missing the boat on cook now/serve later, the pasta salad should have been a cake walk. Every home cook on the street could make a pasta salad. This should have een a no-brainer. And complaining after the cow already left the barn is silly.
                                                                                          Steph - How can you not like her. Hope she sticks around and the other nut-jobs do not change her too much.
                                                                                          Others - Nothing really to say, almost non-events.

                                                                                          43 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                            I agree....that duck taco looked delicious! Andrew has the chops. It's just his off the wall personality puts a damper on his talent.

                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                              Andrew is totally growing on me. He obviously can cook, he just needs to talk less.
                                                                                              And they all need to stfu with the agro towards the judges....

                                                                                              Emerging Biggest Jerk: Spike. They showed him twice acting the bully before breakfast with Andrew with that nuggie-headlock. This guy is a butthead who is only going to get worse. Can he cook? Meh. Is he more excited about trying to win by screwing up other people? Yeah. Hate him.

                                                                                              Erik....I liked him. I could hang out with him. And smack him down when he says idiotic things about Mexican food. He'd apologize. He seems sweet. I think he was weirdly lost in the format, unable to plate in a way that wasn't a big honking mess, and then...ridiculous lack of planning. Bye, Erik!

                                                                                              Zoi...how could she *not* pull off some kind of at least grocery-store tasty pasta salad? My monkey could...etc etc Still waiting for the drama with her and her g'friend to break out.

                                                                                              Steph - what's *not* to love when she is so unassuming but keeps cooking up winning plates?

                                                                                              Richard - I was skeptical, but he has chops, so . . .
                                                                                              Dale, promising but inconclusive. Lisa, who can tell? That other tall white guy who seems a bit of jerk but not as aggressive as Spike...who can tell? Manuel, well, I had a really good brunch at Dos Caminos, so...

                                                                                              I can't wait for Nikki to get cut. Brittle, arrogant, not my kind of gal.

                                                                                              1. re: pitu

                                                                                                I remember reading an interview somewhere where they asked all the NY chefs who they disliked the most. They all trashed Lisa. So I'm predicting there will be some drama in the future.

                                                                                                  1. re: pitu

                                                                                                    I really have no idea. I just know she's from NY. Maybe she's in between gigs.

                                                                                                  2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                    See? This is what I'm talking about - there are too many people! I had to go to bravo.com to find out who the h#ll Lisa was and I feel as if I'm really good at remembering names/faces/people.

                                                                                                    There has just not been enough air time to make final judgements on anybody yet. Give it a couple more weeks and we'll be Team Steph! or Team Richard! or even Team Andrew! (Who I have to admit (until that last "not in my house" outburst) is growing on me.)

                                                                                                  3. re: pitu

                                                                                                    I am in the Andrew camp, too...he is funny, I like his spazziness, he can definitely cook, and he works with obvious passion and love of his art, unlike most of this season's crew so far. His agressive comments were definitely shown out of context by the editing...if they were truly scary or offensive, one of the judges would likely comment in their blog. Ted and Bayless have not...Colicchio's is not up yet...and I can't bring myself to watch Padma's vlog so someone can fill me in. I see Andrew sticking around to the finale.

                                                                                                    1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                      Padma's vlog is also transcribed if you go to Page 3 or 4.

                                                                                                  4. re: jfood

                                                                                                    What surprised me was that Nikki was concerned about melting Velveeta -- I've never used Velveeta, but even I know the whole point of Velveeta is that it melts. If she isn't familiar with the product, couldn't she at least read the box?????? I think what happened is that instead of just melting the Velveeta she tried to make bechamel sauce with it, and with the extra flour, it set up like cement.

                                                                                                    I wanted to like the Red Team and hate the Blue Team, but the Red Team's attitude was just awful!

                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                      Velveeta--that's another product I associate with emergency food supplies. Are people in Chicago paranoid about natural disasters or something?

                                                                                                      1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                        They *do* have really bad snow and ice....but...

                                                                                                        1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                          It did seem rather peculiar to me that a household would have those huge blocks of Velveeta in the refrigerator. Or does it even need to be refrigerated?

                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                            Jfood hates to admit this, but the mac and cheese he ate growing up was velveeta and milk (momma jfood was not a chowhound obviously). That stuff probably has a melt point of 80 degrees. There is no way that it should have been hard unless, as you said, she tried to turn it into something it wasn't.

                                                                                                            And jfood thinks the reason that the "block" was there was for the "block" party. That household was probably assigned mac and cheese and off to costco they went. Probably left on the editing floor was the comment when the chefs saw it "WTF do you do with a F'ing block of F'ing Velveeta." (remember we are talking of F-Chef) To which the owner of the house probably replied "we were assigned mac and cheese."

                                                                                                            BTW - jfood believes velveeta does need to be refrigerated. And it's been almost 30 years since Velveeta has touched jfood's tongue.

                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                              When we moved to KC (from Chicago) - we found that at every party and/or work treat day somebody brought Rotel Dip. We'd never heard of it before.
                                                                                                              The way we like it is Velveeta, Rotel Tomatoes and Italian Sausage all melted deliciously together. My husband is now seriously addicted to it and his palate is waaaay better than mine. It's the only reason we have big blocks of Velveeta in the pantry.

                                                                                                              It might not be "chowhoundish" - but I'm sure we all have our dirty litttle processed food pleasures. This one is ours.

                                                                                                              1. re: Mushroom

                                                                                                                wow - they *totally* would have done better doing Rotel Dip.
                                                                                                                were they actually banned from cooking on-site or did they just do it that way? I would have been checking for grills and charcoal on the house to house, grilled those dogs and made crazy toppings (which they *talked* about doing but...)

                                                                                                                1. re: Mushroom

                                                                                                                  ohhh i've never seen sausage in rotel dip. i'm presuming its crumbled up? or is it sliced?

                                                                                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                    Browned and crumbled first. I think most people use ground beef but I'm a bit of an Italian Sausage freak. I could seriously brown a pound, dump it on a plate and - in no time - eat the whole darn thing.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Mushroom

                                                                                                                      I'm like that with most sausage ;) That's a good tidbit, I bring out the rotel dip (just the rotel & velveeta) now and then for social gatherings up here in the northeast - that seems like a good way to kick it up a bit.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Mushroom

                                                                                                                        I brown a pound of Bob Evans spicy breakfast sausage and add to the Ro-tel dip. It's like crack.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                          Sounds like something to feed the animals. I'm trying not to get a visual on that. Kinda like the velveeta and chili blend that looks like the aftermath of a long night of drinking in college.

                                                                                                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                    I have a huge block of Velveeta in my refrigerator at this very moment. I bought it for a pot of cheese soup; I don't use only Velveeta, but I use a fair amount of it in soups and sauces becuase it does melt without separating. So it has its place. You don't have to refrigerate it until it's open.

                                                                                                                    I think Nikki's main problem was that she should have transported the macaroni and the sauce separately; and probably should have made the sauce a little thinner than she thought she should.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                      Ruth, I grew up with those blocks of velveeta in the refrigerator.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Megiac

                                                                                                                        My apologies then - I grew up in an American family overseas, and we had little, if no, access to American ingredients - much as our genes craved them! I can still remember coveting Skippy Peanutbutter and Welsh's grape jelly sandwiches!

                                                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                          Some buddies of mine in college were invited to a wine and cheese party, casting pearls before swine, as it were. They brought Mogen David and Velveeta. They are now contributing members of society, one is a lawyer and one is an MBA. OK, so they don't contribute much, but at least they contribute.

                                                                                                                  3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                    Ruth - I think you're right - hadn't even thought about that! I don't use Velveeta, but I also know its meltability makes it good for cheese sauces. So perhaps that's why it was brick-like - they did show her making a roux with flour and butter.

                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                      Velveeta melts great for cheese sauces and dips, but what it also does well is harden back up quickly once it loses temperature. I'm afraid that's what happened to the Mac'n'cheese.

                                                                                                                      I know this from making velveeta/salsa dip when I was a kid. If you didn't eat it all in the span of 10 minutes, you had to keep throwing it back in the microwave so that it would melt again.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                      yes that must be what she did!! Added flour as if it was really cheese and not something designed to be used by people who have no idea HOW to make a cheese sauce. I love it. Not at ALL impressed with Nikki so far...even I could do a better job of measuring dough for a deep dish pizza...so far all she has has success with was a nice homemade lasagna (and cheese plus honey, if that is even a dish), everything else has been quite bad!

                                                                                                                    3. re: jfood

                                                                                                                      Can't resist the "role call" you've started here. Seems like the most efficient way to do it.

                                                                                                                      Stephanie - What's not to love?

                                                                                                                      Dale - Sometimes he seems to have a quietly contemptuous attitude toward the show. Did he not see the show before he decided to be a part of it? And I don't see the comparisons with Hung other than the fact that they're both Asian. Hung was competitive but brought a sense of joy to the cooking (and I never thought he lacked "soul" - ridiculous.) Dale just needs to lighten up - when you see him in lighter moods he seems alright. He and Andrew need to take step back and see that it's just a cooking competition, before one of them has an aneurysm. Too much New York faux-bravado this season.

                                                                                                                      Erik - Liked him but the departure was inevitable

                                                                                                                      Richard - Can't get past the faux hawk. He's almost unwatchable. His cooking does not appeal - cut open the Glad wrap and release the smoke, please...

                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                        Very nice summary jfood. I thought for sure you'd mention the Borat thing. Very 2006. I really like Stephanie too. But I think you're underestimating Nikki.

                                                                                                                        1. re: southernitalian

                                                                                                                          I don't think it is possible to underestimate Nikki. So far she has made the bad mushrooms and a concrete like mac and cheese.

                                                                                                                          1. re: southernitalian

                                                                                                                            Jfood was multi tasking since his fantasy baseball draft was thursday night and he was doing roster research. What Borat thing? Did jfood miss that one? TIA

                                                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                              Andrew and Spike seem really to enjoy putting on the Borat accent.

                                                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                Gotta pay more attention this week.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                  you know, i don't think it was a "borat" impression, i think it was a remarkably poor attempt at a stereotypical "french chef" accent. it remains to be seen-- i only caught a snippet, but i suspect they were making a lame attempt at making fun of someone they probably shouldn't.

                                                                                                                                  i hope i am wrong. *if* i am right i would personally put those two adult males over my knee and spank them with a wire-bristled hairbrush, willingly doing jail time for assault as a result. i DO hope i am wrong, i am just *sayin'*.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                    It was definitely a Borat impression. They used many of the best known catch-phrases.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                      really? if so i totally didn't catch that, but i've only seen parts of "borat," once. what did they say?

                                                                                                                                      p.s. i was referring to the andrew monologue when he was doing his short/oompa loompa/french chef/inspector clouseau impression (on his knees, outtake from next week's episode) and for all i know we're talking about different clips. please expand. tia.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                        The "little chef" impression, out of context in the outtake of course, I assumed was from Ratatouille, where Linguini calls Remi his "little chef". FWIW.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                          It was definitely an attempt at Borat - "Success," "Niice." They did it a bunch of times throughout the episode, with fist pumps. Very annoying.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                        Who did you think they were making fun of? You said "making fun of someone they probably shouldn't"...perhaps I'm slow on the uptake but who? lol

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                                                                          It appears they are making fun of Daniel Boulud. Which makes Eric saying stuff about Bayless seem like nothing.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jhopp217

                                                                                                                                            Update on mini-Andrew:

                                                                                                                                            I just saw a commercial for this week's episode and apparently the challenge has something to do with making food inspired by movies, and one team is using Willie Wonka and the chocolate factory, and Andrew says he's considering trying to be an umpa lumpa.

                                                                                                                            2. erik was due to go home sooner than later-- he can't plate for s*^%, so it makes sense to get rid of him as soon as his food doesn't taste good. everything he plated looked like the thing (taco, souffle, etc) was run over by a truck, managed to drag itself across a white plate leaving a streak of innards, and expired on one side in a puddle.

                                                                                                                              zoi can't make pasta salad-- gotta be worse than not being able to make a souffle or picatta. nikki only seems to be able to do pseudo-fancy italian-american failures while whining about how she's such a great italian cook, trying to boss people around, and wearing a bleached-out sbarro's uniform. they can't get rid of her fast enough for me.
                                                                                                                              andrew is cranked out of his gourd and not in touch with reality. spike is his annoying sidekick.

                                                                                                                              i like that the losing red team was drinking & goofing off before the challenge was won. they had just enough beers in them to trigger those dumb clueless comments in front of the judges. blue team looked like pros saving the beers for celebrating when it was all over.

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                I'm not surprised that Erik was sent packing. While I like the guy's big gruff teddybear attitude (despite the diss to Bayless), his plating was always klutzy, ugly and colorless. I actually think our boy may be colorblind!

                                                                                                                                As to Andrew's issues, well I think part of his schizo nature may be due to the rather slovenly editing this season. All in all, compared to the past two seasons, the show has been dully presented. It seems oddly disparate, with each basic episode following such a hard and fast pattern but then each section lacking any sort of cohesive flow or style. It really seems as if they've been busy reading, well, this Chow thread in particular (major elimination in swearing from Ep 1 to Ep 2, red-herring-ing Zoi after the obvious outcome last week, etc) and then struggling to be all things to all people. I sense that the eps are being cut up until the last minute!

                                                                                                                                Sometimes the opinion polls need to be ignored and the instincts run with, okay Bravo? I know you're reading this!

                                                                                                                                1. Ok, this season is starting to bother me. The idting gives way too many clues as to who is gone. It seemed they showed the losing teram partying more than cooking, so you knew they lost. Then you hear Eric take a pot shot at Rick Bayless - no no from a nobody. They wouldn't have had everyone defending Zoi if she was gone.

                                                                                                                                  Did anyone notice they only showed about 8 dishes in the quickfire? It was pretty obvious that Manuel didn't get it and was going to lose, especially when Bayles said "pretty standard taco." What about the fact that Bayless ate the entire taco that richard gave him. I thought it was actually a nice touch that Richard made one for himself, he exudes confidence without being a jerk.

                                                                                                                                  Stephanie is probably the most consistent at this point, since she's saved two dishes in a row.

                                                                                                                                  How about Padma saying something about the different cultures in Chicago and then the block party starts and it's white bread America? And what's with the editing...the camera inside the house of the one lady? Wow they must have been relly surpised whe the door knocked.

                                                                                                                                  And I love Paella, i've had it at home, I've had it out, I've had it made at people's houses. The "crust" description is something I've never heard, seen, r wanted. It's not a crust, it's the slow cook that makes it stick to the bowl and then to your ribs. It's not a crust. If you have a crust, you've cooked it with not enough liquid!

                                                                                                                                  Finally, Spike is arrogant, but he was funny this show and in my opinion, he was dead on with his palate comment. If you take 100 people off the street and give them steak tartar, or foie gras, or raw tor, they will spit it out. If you give someone paella who doesn't eat seafood, are they going to like it. Most people like jar sauces and condiments. Do you think the average Joe likes pomegranite ketchup, or wasabi mustard? No way!

                                                                                                                                  Another finally - was Dale even in this show? He's fading fast for "this seasons" Hung and Marcel!

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: jhopp217

                                                                                                                                    I disagree with Spike and agree with the judges, that you can cook for the masses and still cook well. At my own neighborhood block party, the homemade cookies are gone long before the cardboard store-bought ones, ditto the potato salads and the like. We always get some not-so-middle-American offerings, too, like bite-sized potstickers and California rolls, and an excellent riff on the layered tex-mex dip.

                                                                                                                                    Stephanie's winning fruit crisp looked great, not just because it was fresh ripe fruit, but she combined some interesting flavors, made the cool gyoza chips, and cooked the crisp separately so it stayed crisp, and I've made some pretty well-received crumbles and crisps in my day; there are a lot of ways she could have made a ho-hum dessert and acted like Zoi, or I daresay, any chef from previous seasons who got "stuck" with dessert.

                                                                                                                                  2. From the onset I don't think Eric was right for Top Chef. He is kind of like the Bad A** version of Mikey from season 2. Put that guy inside a gastro-pub and you're going to get a delecious array of food but ask him to refine his techniques and be creative and all hell will break loose. I think his true talents were with comfort foods/ bar foods and asking him to expand outside that zone made him loose all confidence in his abilities and thus produce some awful looking food.

                                                                                                                                    Richard and Stephanie are the best chefs this season, I'd be happy to work for either one of them. Richard exudes a quiet confidence and knows his food is good enough to stand up so he doesn't have to play the games, Stephanie on the other hand is proabably the best cook of the group but doesn't have the confidence to believe in her skills yet. Once she finds it - watch out!

                                                                                                                                    Someone needs to take the 8 ball away from Andrew or give the dude some Ritalin; either his head is going to blow up scanners style or his heart is going to explode during an epsiode. If they ever show him drinking a red bull during a challenge I suggest you change the channel because what will happen next won't be pretty! Him and Spike are exactly the reasons why I'm thrilled to be moving from Manhattan to Virginia for my MBA in a couple months. The amount of people here with a pseudo-confidence that is expressed through arrogance is rediculous, Richard has displayed the right way to have confidence in oneself, Spike and Andrew are perfect examples of the wrong way.

                                                                                                                                    One of these days all the cheftestants will realize they are supposed to cook the BEST FOOD possible, not just passable food to keep some kids happy - sure the bacon and avacado ice cream was a bad idea by Marcel so the audience is important, but if you're going to make a corn dog or a pasta salad make sure it is the best possible version that a 7 year old and Ted Allan will love equally.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: wingman

                                                                                                                                      exactly. i hate to bring up another show but ted allen (and even other unamed judges) have shown on iron chef america that twists on american classics done right can wow anyone. you don't have to dumb down. good food is good food.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: wingman

                                                                                                                                        "I think his true talents were with comfort foods/ bar foods and asking him to expand outside that zone made him loose all confidence in his abilities and thus produce some awful looking food."

                                                                                                                                        Couldn't agree with you more. Moreover, dissing an entire national cuisine (Mexican) as well as the chef who has devoted his professional life (with some success) to disproving and undermining that same disrespect reveals a closed mind of stupendous proportions. Good riddance.

                                                                                                                                      2. I'm glad Spike wares a hat other wise I would not be able to tell him apart from Andrew.

                                                                                                                                        It was a toss up about who should go. Zoi or Erik no loss. I will say the Erik's dish started out well. Then over time and transportation the quality sank. Like the souffle that he didn't know how to make. Zoi's salad on the other hand was never good, even from the get go. They knew all along her dish was bad. I think for that reason alone she should have gone home.

                                                                                                                                        Zoi simply showed poor sportsmanship. For whatever reason she wound up making the salad. She went into it with a bad attitude, and the results clearly showed that. I can't believe in her whole work experience she has been lucky enough to only make what she wants. There really was no excuse for her bad behavior. Unless of course she really dose not know how to cook.

                                                                                                                                        Erik was quickly showing himself to be a ham-handed and ignorant cook. He knows what he knows and that's all he need's. His comments about Bayless just made him seem uneducated and narrow minded. It was getting tiresome to hear him repeat about what he cooks at HIS restaurant Or 'it's not on MY menu'. Time for you to run along back to your beloved little place and let the real cooks get on with things. He was clearly way out of his league from the very start.

                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                          I think one of the reasons they kept Zoe is that Bravo didn't milk the lesbian couple thing enough on the show. And that she's probably an overall better chef than Erik.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                            She does have a blog. So there is some tie in with Bravo. That was also in the back of my mind.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                            Hi there. Haven't posted here very much, but I have to express how disgusted I was at Erik's behavior. At first I was rooting for him but when he purposely ignored the whole point of last night's Quickfire Challenge and then said Bayless could go "screw himself" when he found himself in the bottom three, I couldn't believe my ears. Hello? Did you not specifically make street food instead of upscale Mexican food in direct contradiction to the assignment? At the risk of sounding like an old lady (which I'm not -- I don't think -- is 46 old these days?), what happened to taking RESPONSIBILITY for your actions and having RESPECT for someone with a lot more experience, worldly and professional, than you? Past Top Chef contestants have been cocky, yes, but in addition to the cockiness this season I'm sensing a real lack of respect from several of the chefs.

                                                                                                                                            As for Zoi & her stepchild pasta salad, I'm sorry but I have to believe if I asked Eric Ripert or Daniel Boulud to make a pasta salad for my block party, it would be the best damn pasta salad anyone has ever eaten -- you know, what one would expect from a "Top Chef."

                                                                                                                                            Oh, and at my house we call Andrew "The Tweaker." Just sayin'.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: pisang goreng

                                                                                                                                              <<As for Zoi & her stepchild pasta salad, I'm sorry but I have to believe if I asked Eric Ripert or Daniel Boulud to make a pasta salad for my block party, it would be the best damn pasta salad anyone has ever eaten -- you know, what one would expect from a "Top Chef." >>

                                                                                                                                              Well said. For example, I think even if you asked HUNG to make a pasta salad, he would have thrown himself into the project and come up with something delicious and outside-the-box. He certainly wouldn't have said "ho-hum, this sucks, I'll make something mediocre and move on."

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jaydreb

                                                                                                                                                Actually I think Hung would have said this F'n sucks and then made a killer salad any how. That's what pros do. Suck it up and deal with it.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                                                                                  Totally. This goes back to the comment way above, by OP?, about this group not being particularly "chef-y." Sure they all be chefs in some capacity, but do they really love to taste and create new flavors? Any dish, however trivial seeming, is an opportunity to showcase one's mastery of flavors. Pasta is a great neutral canvas for expression.

                                                                                                                                                  Zoi decided she would play victim once she got assigned the pasta (or when she failed to fight for anything she really wanted).

                                                                                                                                                  Erik the proud executive chef reminds me of other proud executive chefs of seasons past. They are much better off being the barons and earls of their little domains than risking their brittle egos in the bigger world.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                                                    I wonder if Erik was a little defensive because he is one of only two chefs this season with no formal culinary training. Not that that is a bad thing because we all know there are great self-taught chefs out there, but he seemed slightly out of his league (i.e. souffle) and he seemed to show disdain, almost contempt, for the fine dining Quickfire Challenge and Rick Bayless.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pisang goreng

                                                                                                                                                      I think it has more to do with the person than whether somebody has had formal training. I think Mr. That 70s guy (the other self-trained one) has been really great with taking criticism. So far I've been impressed with his attitude (along with Richard, Stephanie, Manuel and Antonia). And I've found Ryan who has been trained in culinary school to be really defensive.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: jaydreb

                                                                                                                                                  Dude with all the Kraft salad dressing floating around throwing that in with the pasta, some olives, feta, cherry tomatos etc it would at least have some flavor. Throw some curry in there perhaps and make an Indian pasta salad. There are so many things to do with what they had (crap or not). Does anyone have the exact description of the pasta salad (you know how they sometime do a seperate shot of the dish with its ingrediants)? I missed it, if they had it at all.

                                                                                                                                                3. re: pisang goreng

                                                                                                                                                  Hahaha! "The Tweaker". That's awesome. I almost spit out my tea when I read that.

                                                                                                                                              2. Agree completely that Erik needed to go. After the quickfire we at home surmised he wouldn't last past episode 5.

                                                                                                                                                Ugh, Erik. By the judges admission (talking about Ted Allen's comment) if he had served the corn dogs immediately they would have been great, however transport was not factored into his decision. He should have learned from Nikki's mistake last week, with those ugly mushrooms, and by that logic should have stayed. My assessment is Erik went home because the producers couldn't kick off three women in a row.

                                                                                                                                                Now, Nikki, COME ON, Mac and Cheese at a block party? Seriously? I thought her brick of mac and cheese was a far worse sin than boring pasta salad. Made with Velveeta for chrissakes. She couldn't find a snack tray of cheddar and pepperoni in all those houses? Mac and cheese in the summer is already a WTF for me, but mac and cheese at an outdoor event where the eating is done either standing up or sitting on the curb is just strange. That's like serving fondue at a marathon, imho.

                                                                                                                                                Am so far non-plussed by the cheftestants. And I think Marc reminds me of that guy dressed as schoolboy in AC/DC.

                                                                                                                                                I think people should lay off the speculation of Andrew's habits. Maybe he's just got a hyper personality. Lots of people do. Just because it doesn't appeal to you isn't a reason to slander the guy.

                                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: MaspethMaven

                                                                                                                                                  MaspethMaven, read Ted Allen's blog on the Top Chef site concerning the use of Velveeta...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MaspethMaven

                                                                                                                                                    I'm surprised they didn't learn the lessons of the small mushroom looking too much like turd from Top Chef Miami.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MaspethMaven

                                                                                                                                                      I thought she lucked out by getting Velveta. I mean, wasn't the stuff invented to melt for mac and cheese? Not gourmet in the slightest but at least she didn't run the risk of it separating or becoming oily.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MaspethMaven

                                                                                                                                                        I agree with you regarding Andrew, I think he just has a hyperactive personality. Andrew and Spike have become my favorites on the show, at least they have fun and seem to have some sort of personality. Their arrogance is unsurprising, but I find it interesting that the chowhound board seems to have such thin skin regarding their personalities.

                                                                                                                                                        They, Richard, and Stephanie seem to be the only ones who are genuinely passionate about food, which may be a result of the editing. I used to like the show because it seemed more genuine than other reality shows in its concept and presentation. But Bravo seems to be making it more and more manipulative, I am tempted to skip the viewing and go straight for the TWOP recaps. But I will keep watching...hoping it will get better.

                                                                                                                                                        And Erik can go back to shilling onion rings, Rick Bayless is one of my favorite chefs. As a Chicago native who has eaten at both his restaurants I appreciate what he has done for the culinary scene in this city.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: felixjongleur

                                                                                                                                                          Andrew and Spike are cute together. Maybe they will have a budding "bromance" like their reality tv brothers on "Make Me a Supermodel."

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                                                            I totally got a different vibe from that interaction -- Andrew seemed bullied and not happy about it.
                                                                                                                                                            Unlike the thing on Make Me A Supermodel, which is haaaaawwwttttt.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                                              Didn't really notice Andrew's reaction. They seem like brothers or cousins who grew up together goofing around. Otherwise wouldn't Spike have been eliminated for contact (ie- shaved heads, etc)?

                                                                                                                                                              I also am annoyed by the "realityness" of this season verse the cooking competition. I mean they didn't even show all the QF dishes! Where did my riveting Top Chef go!??!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                                                                                                                                Actually, Andrew clowned about the "no physical contact" rule and getting tossed off for the goofy rasslin'. And that's all it was, two little boys rasslin'!

                                                                                                                                                                Given the rather obvious and exploitative nature of this season's production so far, I'm sure it was included for its "tension" factor. "Oooooh! A repeat of season two....!"

                                                                                                                                                      2. One of my pet peeves is the ubiquitous Baked Ziti or Mac 'N Cheese people bring to potluck dinners. Most times they are dry beyond belief and inedible.

                                                                                                                                                        One time I taught a class for my community called Let's Party and this is what I had to say on the subject.

                                                                                                                                                        If you are going to make a pasta dish to feed a large quantity of people - you can make the pasta al dente, ahead of time.

                                                                                                                                                        After it is drained, stir a little butter in it to prevent sticking. When cool, bag the stuff in zip lock bags or other storage container.

                                                                                                                                                        Make the sauce. Let it cool then chill it.

                                                                                                                                                        When you get to the event, put the pasta in the serving pan(s). Heat the sauce to very very hot and pour it on the pasta. Serve.

                                                                                                                                                        (If absolutely needed, pasta can also be "reheated" by plunging it quickly in hot/boiling water then draining. Trust me, restaurants do this.)

                                                                                                                                                        For added interest - you can add some crushed croutons/fresh grated Parmesean cheese on top.

                                                                                                                                                        Friends don't let friends serve dried out pasta.

                                                                                                                                                        22 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                          Did the parameters of Elim #3 allow sterno or on site heating? It would be nice to know the ground rules.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                                                            Leeanne explains this really well in her blog...the sterno pans are usually set in water so they steam heat--which destoyed the corn dogs. In Season 1 she argued to leave the water out with some fish nuggets or something, but the idea was vetoed by Harold and Tiffani...and soggy they became. She did a dry sterno heat in the sex club and her spring rolls stayed crisp!

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                            Trish teh whole point was they couldn't cook there. I'm actually surprised that Spike wasn't Dq'ed for bringing the torch. If that was allowed why ddin't velveeta girl bring one, put it sliced on top, heat it and mix? I think the rules stated, no cooking on site!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jhopp217

                                                                                                                                                              So that means there were no heating elements, no sterno, nothing?

                                                                                                                                                              That means cold sliders, cold skewers of meat were served, or even worse, these things were sitting out at room temp. for two hours before they were served?

                                                                                                                                                              Those items would be dreadful.

                                                                                                                                                              But okay, I'll go with no heating source at all for a moment.

                                                                                                                                                              Then there is Plan B.

                                                                                                                                                              MAKE SOMETHING ELSE.

                                                                                                                                                              Because dreadful cold mac and cheese or baked ziti is unacceptable, you just don't serve them. Case closed.

                                                                                                                                                              For example, serve this excellent Pasta Salad:

                                                                                                                                                              Cook spaghetti al dente. That's right spaghetti, rinse it in cold water and drain it dry.


                                                                                                                                                              Italian salad dressing (the pasta drinks it in like a straw)
                                                                                                                                                              Chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, pepper
                                                                                                                                                              Basil, oregano, tarragon


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                                Lee Ann Wong said that each team has 6 warming trays with plenty of Sterno fuel, so they had warming/heating capabilities. Her rec (after the fact) to Erik was that he should have dry-heated the corndogs - not put any water in the bottom tray, and they would have stayed crisp (the way her spring rolls did in one of her episodes).

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                  Corn dogs still seem like the Wong choice. If you don't put water in the bottom tray then they typically do not heat evenly. Not a very good solution IMO. They were most likely already sogs instead of dogs from steaming inside the cambros during transport.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                                                                                                    Lee Ann wrote about trying to do the same thing in another of her episodes - breaded/fried fish nuggets and she wanted to dry heat them in the warming tray, while Harold and someone else chose to go with the water warming method - which made them soggy, just like the corn dogs. When Lee Ann dry-heated her spring rolls in another episode, they remained crispy. I'm just saying what she said. If it worked for spring rolls, why wouldn't it work for corn dogs?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                      If you run a chaffer with out water you burn the bottom pan. Period. A totally moot point in this case really because the dogs were probably sogs well before they even made it into a steaming cambro for transport. Putting them in a dry chaffer was not going to save them.
                                                                                                                                                                      I thought those corn dogs looked rather un-appetizing to begin with.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                                                                                                        Docs, don't take this too hard, but I believe Ms Wong about what worked for her, and what would have worked here.
                                                                                                                                                                        Fryer, cool down uncovered, dry chaffing dish = not steamed

                                                                                                                                                                        I'll bet ol' Betty from last year would have been sailed through this one...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                                                          Inane point. Why?
                                                                                                                                                                          There is no dry method in a chafing dish except on TV.
                                                                                                                                                                          If the dogs were cooled then transported how did you expect them to be heated? You can't just throw food in a chafer and expect sterno to heat the food to a proper temperature. No water = no way for the lower pan to really transfer heat to the insert short of burning the chafing dish bottom. Being a hack at service won't cover for choosing to make the wrong item.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, in the past they've had more people with catering experience, and they've been able to help their teams with logistics and ideas for what foods will work and what won't. I don't think they have any caterers this season and it shows: catering has a whole different set of requirements and challenges from cooking in a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                                                                                                            "If you run a chaffer with out water you burn the bottom pan. Period."
                                                                                                                                                                            And Lee Ann has said it worked for her. So your argument is not with me, it's with her. Post on her blog if you disagree. I'm just relaying what she said.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                              I have no argument. It's just a silly cooking show, not reality. Any chef who has worked for more than a day would know how to set up a chafing dish. You have to handle food properly and that includes bringing food up to temperature properly. This is incredibly basic stuff. In this challange there was no cooking allowed on site so hot food had to be kept hot.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                                                                                                                Any chef who has worked for more than a day would know how to set up a chafing dish.
                                                                                                                                                                                And Lee Ann *is* a chef. So I'm going to go with what she said worked for her. We don't know all the steps and the ins and outs of how she did it; other than to say she dry-heated without water in the bottom of the chafing dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                  "I'm just saying what she said. If it worked for spring rolls, why wouldn't it work for corn dogs"

                                                                                                                                                                                  You asked how this applied to the corn dogs and why it wouldn't work. You have your answer. Mr. sogs is gone so it's a rather moot point. Remember that there was no cooking allowed at the event for this challange. Food can not be cooled then thrown in a chafing dish to bring it up to temperature. That's not reality, it's TV. I find it hard to believe such hackish and improper behavior would have slipped by Tom aka chicken coq au vin must be made with a coq. Basic sanitation still applies.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                    "And Lee Ann has said it worked for her"

                                                                                                                                                                                    Do you have a link to Ms. Wongs blog where she claims this would have worked in this case? I pulled up her blog and the last entry I see is July 29, 2007.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you! Here is a quote from her blog;

                                                                                                                                                                                        "Dry heat + cold corn dogs = something better than what was fried then steamed. I had argued this point with my team for the monkfish challenge, stating that our monkfish nuggets would get soggy in the steam table and we should dump the water out of the bottom pan. I was shot down by Tiffani AND Harold, but at the end of the day I know I was right because I had used the same method to keep my spring rolls from the sex shop challenge hot and crispy. "

                                                                                                                                                                                        I have to say I'm pretty taken aback by this. The food was transported in cambros. The idea is to keep the food at temeperature. IE; Hot food hot, cold food cold. How she comes up with cold corn dogs is beyond me. The reason she was shot down on that suggestion before by her own team mates is basic sanitation. Hot food has to be brought back to temp quickly so it will not grow bacteria. It's totally improper to heat food this way. It's key to remember that this challange did not allow any on site cooking. Would it work as a last ditch hail mary? Maybe but once the pan gets hot it will burn. A really really bad idea to suggest as some standard SOP.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Ultimatly it doesn't change that the corn dog was a very poorly conceived idea but at least I understand why others might think this would be acceptable.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                              Linda if you are a fan of Ms. Wong she is scheduled to to be at the Chef's garden/veggieU Food & wine celebration in Ohio July 19.


                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                                                                                                                Well, considering I don't live anywhere near Ohio, I don't expect I will have that opportunity.

                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                            i think he would have been better doing pigs in a blanket.I made some up last year at Christmas for work.I made them up ahead of time and put them in the fridge at home.I took them to work and reheated them in the microwave,everybody ate them.
                                                                                                                                                                            Or,he could have maybe cooked them on site,and they would have been crisp.The Waldorf ingredients should have been kept seperate,then mixed when they got there,would have been better,and he could have added a hint of tarragon or curry for some zing.
                                                                                                                                                                            Pasta salad,maybe use spaghetti as someone said,and some greek seasoning.A friend made some up like that and it was very good.
                                                                                                                                                                            As far as tacos go,Manuel could have made brain,sweetbread,tongue or goat tacos,if they had had the fixings in the Top Chef kitchen.
                                                                                                                                                                            Thought I heard Rick tell him he made a typical taco.
                                                                                                                                                                            The thing is, if you are mexican and let's say you and the family save a bunch of money to take your parents out to an expensive restaurant in say Mexico City,for their 50th wedding anniversery, you aren't going to order tacos.You'll order say cabrito or pollo con mole verde,or other dishes which your family doesn't make or can't afford to make every day.Tacos are everyday food,family and street food.
                                                                                                                                                                            I have a friend whose a retired school teacher whose Mexican American. When visitors come to town,and they want to eat mexican food,Joe will take them to some place,and order american food if they
                                                                                                                                                                            have it,which some do.He says he eats mexican food at home,why should he eat it out. Now Joe will go to mexican restaurants on the west or south side and order things that his mother doesn't make ,but he is particular where he goes for these dishes.
                                                                                                                                                                            I think that is what some of the chefs were trying to say,but they put it badly.That maybe why Manuel made what Rick called a typical taco,because i assume most mexicans don't equate tacos with fine dining.There are some fantastic dishes in mexican cusine which are elegant and sophisticated and worthy of being considered fine dining.
                                                                                                                                                                            But upscale tacos to me sounds like pandering to rich gringos
                                                                                                                                                                            and I'm sure mexicans like Manuel want people to think of their native cusine as more than just tacos and enchiladas.
                                                                                                                                                                            Velveeta was sold in the 1920s in Sears Grocery Catalogs.Yes,both Sears,Wards, M.W.Savage and several other mail order firms also sold groceries by mail too.
                                                                                                                                                                            Never made mac and cheese with it, but i would have melted it with a little milk and butter, and not add it to white or bechamel sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                            That was her mistake. Or she could have used some other cheese
                                                                                                                                                                            people had in their pantry,added a little dijon mustard to it or what ever.
                                                                                                                                                                            Not sure about some of the crew just yet,since this is only the third episode.Didn't see anything wrong with them having fun after serving people,might as well enjoy yourself.
                                                                                                                                                                            The desserts looked good. And the cinnamon sugar wonton was kind of a takeoff on a buenelo,a fried disc of pastry sprinkled with cinnamon sugar,and sometimes a syrup is poured on it.You can buy them sometimes at the localH.E.B.stores in San Antonio and surrounding area.

                                                                                                                                                                          4. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                                            My mom did a pasta salad similar to this for years - pinwheel pasta, italian dressing, bacon bits, tomato, peppers and basil. Looking back on it, she wasn't a great cook, but I loved that pasta salad!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. This episode irked me, so I am venting a little here. What I don't get is that these chefs have three seasons of episodes to learn about what succeeds and what fails yet they are surprised when they transport food to another location and it doesn't taste as good as it was when it was first made. Heck, I even know that tonight's dinner may not be as good reheated later as a snack.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                          I suppose it is sign of genuineness that the contestant chefs don't prep specifically for the show. My feeling is that these are professional working chefs who at best take out time to send in a video. Some probably do bother to prep but they are quietly happy to let others make the mistakes and weed themselves out. And then there is the pressure we can only get a glimpse of watching on TV. The reflex I see is contestants resorting to recipes they know well in a pinch. Sometimes they do it blindly without thinking about their suitability under the unique circumstances, eg the corn dogs.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Not sure if this was brought up yet, but it was mentioned in the interview. What was with Tom saying mayo kept Waldorf Salad fresh! From what I know, though i'm no expert, that mayo goes bad real fast because of the eggs and all. This was very interesting coming from a chef like Tom.

                                                                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: digkv

                                                                                                                                                                            I don't know about keeping it fresh, but the commercial mayonnaise that we buy off the shelf has been stabilized chemically. But warm mayo has got to make the salad really nasty.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: digkv

                                                                                                                                                                              Actually, store bought mayo causing food poisoning in stuff like potato salad and mac salads... etc, is actually a fallacy.

                                                                                                                                                                              Mayo itself is acidic and the acidity discourages microbial growth. It's when you start adding other stuff to mayo that "dilutes" the acidity, at least this is what I learned in a food science class 15 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                              People getting sick from these mayo laden salads are due to improper storage - cold foods not staying cold, hot foods not staying hot. Those infamous church potlucks where people leave the salads in the trunk before eating.

                                                                                                                                                                              However, I'm sure the pro cooks and chefs can offer the practical advice.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: digkv

                                                                                                                                                                                What bugged me was the addition of chicken to a "classic" Waldorf salad. Since when does Waldorf salad have chicken? Sure you can add chicken to just about any kind of salad, but it's certainly not part of the "classic" Waldorf salad recipe. And then there was Ted saying that Waldorf salad probably originated in middle America. Uh, Ted, don't you live in NY? Haven't you ever heard of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel? Considering how the judges take the cheftestants to task over their lack of familiarity with the classics, the sheer amount of ignorance about this one dish from both the chefs and the judges was staggering.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you Ruth! That confused the heck out of me. I didn't Tivo this one so one other question - Tom said something about mayo and staying fresh and I missed the comment. Did anyone catch it?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: southernitalian

                                                                                                                                                                                    He said that mayo is what keeps the ingredients from getting soggy ... not sure how that works.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                      I thought he said mayo keeps it "fresh" - but I wasn't sure what he meant by that.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: farmersdaughter

                                                                                                                                                                                        Maybe the oil in the mayo acts as a moisture barrier, keeping the ingredients from exuding water (like the poor crab salad the week before).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                          probably in the minority as not a colicchio fan at all, and there's a number of ways his mayonnaise comment might be construed, but in terms of food preservation, the simple vinegar-based type of mayo has acidity from the vinegar to supress bacterial growth up to a point--think of all those unrefridge'd sandwiches that don't make people sick--a vinegary dressing(prepared mustard also has vinegar) often plays a part.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: farmersdaughter

                                                                                                                                                                                          He did say "fresh," but I've discussed this with some people who are both medically knowledgable and food-knowledgable and we think he MUST have meant that it keeps it crispy and fresh-tasting, it cannot be that it keeps it fresh in the sense of being safe. Most food poisoning in this country happens from mayonnaise-based salads -- not as someone said above because the mayo spoils itself but because people leave it around so much -- it gives us the false feeling that food is fresh because it still tastes the same past when it's really ok to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. I think Erik was not long for this world...just not up to the caliber of the others.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Unless some massive redemptions happen, I see Nikki or Ryan next.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, I think if I were at a block party, I'd rather eat sliders, smores and a dip and chip bar than paella and a "sexy drink".
                                                                                                                                                                                  It's too bad the execution wasn't up to par.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hijack about Andrew: being a mother of a child with ADHD, I can say he is a textbook case.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Nervous energy- check
                                                                                                                                                                                  Compulsive control problems- check
                                                                                                                                                                                  Focus Issues-check
                                                                                                                                                                                  Amazing creativity-check

                                                                                                                                                                                  That said, I think he's great to watch and am sort of saddened at all the hating going on about him.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Sure, he says some off the wall stuff...I'm sure he's trying to be funny and entertaining.
                                                                                                                                                                                  He's shown kindness and support to others, is respectful to the guest judges, is extremely talented and creative...a bit cocky, but I think it takes that kind of attitude to perservere with a learning disability ( as opposed to "I have a condition...woe is me.")

                                                                                                                                                                                  In information given to parents of ADD and ADHD kids, they suggest channelling their energy into career fields that prize energy and multi-tasking and Andrew seems to have done that successfully.
                                                                                                                                                                                  All the drug speculation and meanness makes me worry for how my child will be perceived in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: steamedbun

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think much of the drug speculation springs from the bad behavior found in some professional kitchens.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: steamedbun

                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree that some of the commentary has gotten unnecessarily mean-spirited, but I disagree that Andrew is respectful. His outburst about having to have security drag him away really made me lose any sympathy I had for him.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Hey all, I mentioned some of your great comments in my interview of Erik yesterday: http://www.chow.com/stories/11033. I loved what you said about Andrew being on meth...Hilarious....and the product placement. I thought I was the only one who noticed the camera shot from the inside of the house.


                                                                                                                                                                                      1. One particular oddity about Erik's "Mexican and fine dining don't go together" outburst that I believe has so far gone unnoticed ->

                                                                                                                                                                                        This is the same guy who, in Episode #1 when given the opportunity to "reinvent a classic dish," chose to do a pepper jack cheese souffle with avocado creme fraiche, black bean puree and salsa. Which he himself described as "glorified nachos". When the only marching order was "souffle," and "reinvented". (That dish, incidentally, was simply terrifying on so many fronts it's hard to count - it looked like it had been thrown up on the plate, and he clearly had absolutely no idea whatsoever how to make a souffle).

                                                                                                                                                                                        If Mexican and fine dining don't go together, WTF was he doing reinventing a souffle as "glorified nachos"?

                                                                                                                                                                                        33 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, upon watching the repeat, I noticed he said he has a lobster corndog on his menu - as in a dressed-up version of a "street food."

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Budget Palate

                                                                                                                                                                                            The whole premise of his restaurant, Circa in SF, supposedly is to reinvent classic dishes. From the website: "Throughout his several ventures he has reinvented classic dishes from around the world like he does at CIRCA."

                                                                                                                                                                                            Somehow Mexican is beneath such reinvention but corndogs aren't?

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                                                            Nice catch, frodnesor.

                                                                                                                                                                                            On my earlier post, here the line from the credits about judging..I had to dig around for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            "Winning and elimination decisions were made by the Judges in consultation with producers. Some elimination decisions were discussed with Bravo."

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                                                              I think it has more to do with his lack of knowledge about souffles than his views on Mexican food.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                Which brings me to what was the real puzzler - how is it possible that the head chef of a SF restaurant (who apparently has opened up multiple restaurants previously) doesn't know how to make a souffle? I don't get it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                                                                  nobody makes souffles anymore...when do you see them on menus? Erik is self-taught, and had no need to learn how to make something that people aren't expecting to see in restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  the only souffle I have seen lately is a fantastic truffle-huitlecoche souffle at the Mexican-French fusion cafe Itzocan in NYC. Now THAT is an upscale reinvention of a classic dish (with fungi from two major cooking traditions...plus it is wonderful)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am "self-taught" and have never worked in a restaurant and could probably whip up a decent sweet or savory souffle without looking at a cookbook. It is basic technique that I'd figure anyone that's spent some time in a kitchen would know - certainly a professional one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Souffle hardly such a relic that people never see it any more. A search of the Bay Area board shows 82 threads with a hit for "souffle," 81 on the Manhattan board (and keep in mind search only goes back one year).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Just as a home cook, I have made a souffle a time or two, but it is rare to see one on a restaurant menu anymore...
                                                                                                                                                                                                      When you do see one, it's almost always footnoted with something like "Must be ordered at the start of the meal. Wait time up to 30 minutes."
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm paraphrasing, but you can imagine what it means for a pastry chef to have to stop and put these together on a rocking night.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      It can't be cost or time effective and has a high ratio of potential failure, even for an experienced chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not defending either of the souffle-challenged chefs (Rice...Mashed potatoes...basic physics...arggghhh) but I think aside from some ambitious pastry chefs, souffle makers in the restaurant environment must be in the minority.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: steamedbun

                                                                                                                                                                                                        right-- souffles are not offered at most contemporary restaurants because of the nature of the dish-- long bake time, souffles falling, etc. it's a common home cooking technique but not one most restaurant cooks would use. any chef should know the basic principal, but true souffles are among the most impractical of restaurant offerings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't know why anyone would get the impression that souffles are so unusual on contemporary restaurant menus. Here's a list - prepared from references on this board - of restaurants in the Bay Area that have had souffles on the menu (only picking Bay Area b/c there's a number of contemporary restaurants, and it's where Erik is from) ->

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cafe Jacqueline
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gary Danko
                                                                                                                                                                                                          La Folie
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chez Panisse
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chloe's French Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Farmhouse Inn
                                                                                                                                                                                                          General's Daughter
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cafe Rouge
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Fleur de Lys
                                                                                                                                                                                                          ... can I stop yet?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                                                                            but how many of them are *true* souffles-- i.e. egg-white rising, long-baked, unstable, "falling" souffles?-- which you must order in advance with a 30 minute wait, & not part of a tasting menu? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've not eaten at all of these places, so I can't tell you as to all of them. As for Cyrus, Farmhouse Inn, and General's Daughter, they're doing real souffles in my experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              But why does it make a difference whether it's part of a tasting menu or not? To a lesser degree, why does it even matter if they are "fallen" souffles (the technique is basically the same even if the result is not as elegant)? The point is, there are plenty of contemporary restaurants serving souffles. This is not such an unusual or antiquated technique.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: kenito799

                                                                                                                                                                                                      <the only souffle I have seen lately is a fantastic truffle-huitlecoche souffle at the Mexican-French fusion cafe Itzocan in NYC.> I hope you're not inferring that this is the only soufflé on any menu in New York City! Soufflés are everywhere, and not just in fine dining... check out a few menus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have to say, I eat out quite a bit in NYC, and while I'm sure kenito799 is not implying that Itzocan's souffle is the only one on any menu in NYC (wonderful as it is), it is still pretty rare for me to see a souffle on a menu. La Grenouille has wonderful ones though. Bouley had something called a souffle on its tasting menu when I was there in January but, really, it struck me as a molten chocolate cake, not a souffle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you MMRuth, I was hardly claiming a comprehensive knowledge of all restaurants in NYC, just giving my impression. I do think that the vast majority of the souffles out there today are desserts, often chocolate souffles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          But the point was, Erik never learned how to make souffles, and he is apparently a successful self-taught chef--Frodnesor, would you like to do a search of all the Bay area restaurants that do NOT have a souffle on the menu? I think that list would be a bit longer. And most of those restaurants are doing quite well without any souffle action.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                                                                                                                            <I do think that the vast majority of the souffles out there today are desserts, often chocolate souffles.> Does that make them less a soufflé?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                                              no, but less interesting to me, that's just me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: kenito799

                                                                                                                                                                                                              *I think that list would be a bit longer. And most of those restaurants are doing quite well without any souffle action.*

                                                                                                                                                                                                              ??? I'm not the champion of souffles or saying that every restaurant should have them. I'm saying (1) they are hardly that esoteric or antiquated; (2) it's a basic technique; and (3) it's just baffling to me that someone can be a successful head chef and not have a clue how to make one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The fact that every restaurant doesn't have a souffle on the menu doesn't mean that every chef in each of those restaurants doesn't know how to make one (I hope).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                                                                                you and i agree that every head chef should know how to make a *true* souffle, Frodnesor-- but the reason for not featuring true souffles on restaurant menus is because of their long cooking/rising time, the attention that must be paid to them toward the end of cooking, and then the extremely brief period of time in which they must be served before they fall. for example if the patron who ordered a souffle visited the restroom at the wrong moment, or her/his server was not exactly on the spot, the souffle would fall and 30 long minutes of waiting would result in disappointment. there are many items on menus called souffles, mostly desserts, which are not in fact true souffles, they are stabilized confections made to *look* like souffles. restaurants today are so geared toward pleasing the customer that the unstable nature of true souffles make them a risky proposition. some chefs feature them successfully in long tasting menus, where the timing can be more closely controlled, but these days chefs are much more likely to make a true souffle at home rather than at their restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Eleven Madison has or has a chocolate(the real deal) soufflé that was out of this world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, regardless of how many souffles are out there in the world and how many members of this board could make a souffle at home, we have to appreciate that there must be SOMETHING about souffles that makes them bad for this competition because every single chef there opted NOT to do a souffle when given the option (ok only half of them picked, but there were interviews showing some of the others' relief that they weren't making souffle). I don't think it's really about whether souffle is available out there in the world -- it is way less popular than some of the other dishes they were asked to make on episode one, but much more importantly it is WAY more freakin' complicated -- you have to mix it just right and bake it just right, and not let it fall during the hour the judges are eating the other food etc. And when it's the first day and you're already extremely nervous and don't want something that requires that gentle hand (remember Stephanie's hand shaking?) souffle is not going to be what you'd like to make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Regardless, Erik didn't make anything they thought was really good, so he deserved to go home irrespective of Souffle-fairness, rude comments, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                            At the end of the day it's not about weather he was self taught or not. Nor has it about the popularity of soufflés in restaurants. It is really about the fact that potatoes don't rise and and egg whites do he should have known that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree -- and I think I've said before -- that the lack of success of the souffle wasn't as much the issue as the addition of potatoes, which demonstrates not just lack of facility with souffles, but a lack of understanding of basic ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                ...and how many nachos have you had that have potatoes in them? Since he decided to refashion his souffle as a nacho dish. It's really hard to comprehend what exactly he was thinking. Too bad he didn't get a chance to make anything good, his restaurant probably has some good dishes...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  when you put it that way...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  it probably would have been entertaining to watch Eric in his panic process that lead to these plates of misplaced potato.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Due to lack of time (and no doubt *interest*) TopChef lacks humanizing kitchen moments like these....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  : )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm sorry I don't understand -- do you mean nachos do have potatoes in them? I've never seen nachos with potatoes in them. Am I missing out?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Along the Chicago/Uno's theme, Uno's has those "skins" that are bits of potato topped with tex-mex-type toppings. Been years since I've eaten them, but there's your potato+nachos combo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Are you talking about the "real" Uno's in Chicago????? or the chain restos? The chain restos are nothing like the real one.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't recall seeing them at Unos/Due ... but they're definitely on the menu at Unos Chicago Grill or whatever they call themselves these days (the one that was started in Boston, not Chicago).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just the chain. I've been to the original, but it's been many many years (more years than a Uno's Chicago Grill visit), so I don't presume to remember the menu. I'm not putting forth the "validity" or inherent deliciousness of the combo, just saying I've seen potato+nachos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My local Irish pub serves "Irish nachos" which is homemade potato chips with nachos toppings on it. They are GROSS and can only be consumed if you are incredibly drunk. But that's neither here nor there. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. This is the first season I have seen this show but I am surprised (like a lot of posters here) about what poor overall cooks they are. Also, food sense seems to be non existant. Hard to believe these guys are pleasing customers. Either they are way out of their comfort zone on the show or they have excellent staff support in their restaurants. One thing I did enjoy was seeing Chef Bayless as a real guy, not the happy host or tv personality he is on his own shows. I thought the best thing said about the main contest was when the judges said they were disappointed in a lot of the items and the team that one shouldn't have been proud, they just weren't as disappointing as the other team.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I think we are all remembering the last few episodes of last season. We have forgotten about all the contestants that were cut before there was a solid crop of contenders. It's still early days and I am sure a solid group will emerge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I completely agree. I said early on I thought this might be the most talented group because they all had restaurant experience instead of caterers and students like they did on previous seasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    otoh if there were more people with catering experience, you wouldn't have the "hey dumbass" moments with the soggy blini/corndog after 4 hours of hold-time, or the rock hard mac & cheese. that kind of stuff is catering kindergarten (church basement ladies know better, and can & do do better).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Agreed, but the show is called Top Chef not top caterer. The mistakes they made were stupid in hindsight and the lack of catering experience really shows but working in a restaurant is more important when it comes to the concept of the show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        yes, we do agree! :) it's just hard to believe that *nobody* on the show has ever dealt with catering as part of their work-- even chefs who have ever worked banquets, benefit dinners, etc use a lot of the same skills and knowledge with regard to what foodstuffs need to be made/finished to order and which can be "held". maybe the editing skipped over all of the good (sensibly prepared) food and concentrated only on the embarrassingly unsuccessful flops. if so, we really are seeing a skewed view of the contestants, which might be why so many people are saying they aren't very talented.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think you all are figuring out the amorphousness of the whole concept. What exactly is a Top Chef? I had the very question at the very beginning and gave up trying to figure it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If I said Top Chef, i would think in terms of putting menus together, classical techniques, pairing dishes with wines, very haute cuisine, very high end. Instead, they do everything, low brow, high brow, no brow. So if that is the case, they need to make these challenges varied enough to give different contestants the edge, like catering, short order cooking etc. And they do that, but the collection of contestants aren't nearly heterogeneous enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          <Agreed, but the show is called Top Chef not top caterer. >

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry to disappoint you, but people who run catering kitchens are also chefs....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You're right but the 2 are not always interchangeable. A great restaurant chef is not necessary going to be a great caterer and vice versa. The "chef" they are looking for is a for a restaurant not to be a caterer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Then why is it that they keep going the catering route on the challenges?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Because the producers are sadist?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, they are reality show producers, so that goes without saying, but I think they are havignga hard time differentiating between chefs and caterers as you have defined them too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think that there are so many catered events because it makes for "better" tv. Let's face it, if the show was just about 15 contestants cooking different dishes in a kitchen the show wouldn't be exciting for the majority of the public so they stage events to make the contestants scavenge food from neighborhood pantries or cook on the beach on an open fire without first telling them. I, for one, don't like the stunt cooking episodes. The French Culinary Institute episode from last season was my favorite but that really inst exciting enough for reality tv.